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Airlander

Old 18th Apr 2015, 11:34
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Educated Hillbilly
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Airlander

Not sure of Flight Test was quite the right place for this, but as a" resurgent" UK aviation project I would have hoped the usual posters here may have some very valuable insight on this.

I hope it does succeed, it looks like an interesting project to get involved in. There seems to be a bit of recruitment drive at HAV for this.

The big question is does anyone think the Airlander Hybrid Airship project will succeed this time? Or do you think it is another UK aviation project destined for the history books and will go the same way CMC Leopard, Optica and the Centaur seaplane.

Last edited by portsharbourflyer; 18th Apr 2015 at 12:54.
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Old 19th Apr 2015, 15:50
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Well, it's a question about assessment of an aircraft I suppose!


I've been keeping half an eye on what the chaps are doing up the road - I'm not involved, but I've had an interest in airships over the years which I've fed with quite a lot of historical research, and frankly it's just interesting to see new technology going on.

The fundamental problems, historically, with airships, have been various - including:-

(1) Intolerance to variability in payload
(2) Hydrogen!
(3) Airborne manoeuvring stresses
(4) Intolerance to changes in air density.

Lining up this project against those...

(1) The company appear to be marketing it as a carrier of electronic intelligence payloads. So, no significant changes in payload within a mission - cargo or pax in other words, so that seems sensible.

(2) It's Helium.

(3) They seem to have spent an enormous amount of money on development of the airship. Presumably that has included rigorous aeroelastic and manoeuvring analysis. So, until proven otherwise, I'm inclined to believe that they're getting that right.

(4) It's a hybrid - so the use of aerodynamic lift should mitigate the changes of floatation lift with changes in air density. It won't solve the problem altogether, and I can't help feel that the FL200 design spec that the US military were asking them to achieve is a bit optimistic - but it should be better off than, say, the R100 and R101 were ever going to be.



There's certainly a potential market out there for pseudo-geostationary relay capability. Just think, for example, of the posibilities of having a load of telecoms relay gear in an airship that you could position at a few days or weeks notice overhead a major sporting event, or some kind of national emergency.

I think that the military uses mooted are perhaps less sensible - apart from the fact that they're always going to struggle to hit the performance targets the US military were mooting [it's only about 700,000ft^3 isn't it? - I can't see that really hitting a 50 tonne payload], and it would be a bit of an easy target for pretty unsophisticated weaponry.

But, given that most of the R&D costs have been picked up by somebody else and written off, and that they seem to have put decent thought into historic problems with airship technology, and that IT and Telecoms technology is getting less hungry of mass and power year on year...


... just maybe, it'll work. I really hope so, there's just something incredibly sexy about airships isn't there.
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Old 19th Apr 2015, 16:55
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There was a German company that tried to revive Airships as a Cargo platform and that didn't go past concept stage.

Also the selling point as a cheaper alternative to Helicopters for remote area supply flights seemed quite feasible.

But yes there is something quite fascinating about Airships.
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Old 19th Apr 2015, 20:12
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You should also consider the huge advantage that an airship has above anything else - loiter time. In WW2 the US Navy, and in WW1 the Royal Navy used them really effectively as submarine hunters - the ability to chase a sub for days on end was pretty priceless there.

There have been a few recent successes using airships for science work - following pods of wales, measurements over the top of a rain forest, that sort of thing.

If a commercial airship project has a future, it's got surely to be exploiting that. Again, these chaps seem to have a sensible idea there.
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Old 12th Apr 2016, 10:22
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On Thursday we received the EASA Approved Flight Conditions and on Friday the EASA Permit to Fly (from the CAA). Six months of my life, hundreds of pages of technical reports and many hours of meetings & telephone calls. That's the second new UK aircraft design FC and PtF I have delivered in a year. Oh and the Crowdcube total is now more than a million, only three days left to run on that.
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Old 18th Aug 2016, 11:47
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As most of you have probably already seen, we have now flown it. Two test pilots on board.
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Old 21st Aug 2016, 16:29
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Some posters should remember that Airships have to be tethered to a mast whenever they want to load and unload, The Airlander can land like a helo. Huge operational difference.
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Old 22nd Aug 2016, 15:09
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There was a German company that tried to revive Airships as a Cargo platform and that didn't go past concept stage.
Having shared an office with a chap who worked on the German Cargolifter project, he said that one of the major issues they could not easily overcome was disposing of the water ballast. To take a large quantity of water (160 tons) to another part of the world and empty it on land, when taking on the next cargo, caused insurmountable problems with the possible transport of germs/bacteria etc. Airlander overcomes this by not being lighter than air. Instead it uses the helium to provide some buoyancy assistance, working alongside vectored thrust from the engines and aerodynamic lift from the envelope.

As has been mentioned many times, the Airlander 10 was originally built to meet an urgent US Army requirement. HAV were acting as a contractor to Northrop Grumman at the time. The short timescale and lack of project lead probably resulted in a number of compromises being made which the HAV people would like to avoid on subsequent craft. As such, the next Airlander will really be the one to watch.
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Old 24th Aug 2016, 16:58
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The U.S. Army flew this airship, the HAV 304, and cancelled the program in 2013 due to "technical and performance challenges". They sold the airship to HAV for $US301,000 and it became the Airlander 10, a prototype proof-of-concept for the larger Airlander 50.
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Old 2nd Sep 2016, 07:11
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Latest from HAV:

https://www.hybridairvehicles.com/ne...st-august-2016
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Old 8th Sep 2016, 17:57
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This is relevant here because of what it says about test flying. Although his comments have been copied to our company web site, Howard Wheedon does not work for us:

https://www.hybridairvehicles.com/news- ... ldon-fraes
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Old 8th Sep 2016, 19:12
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I'm slightly surprised that the statement 2 posts above doesn't make reference to participation in the investigation by AAIB or similar. While it's certainly an incident in the context of an experimental flight permit or similar authorization, I seem to recall that agencies such as AAIB have participated in - and indeed led in some cases - investigations into accidents to test vehicles (and accepting the difference between accident and incident).

Also, with regard to the interesting piece in the post immediately above - and thanks for sharing it with us - there is a little bit of a difference between an accident or incident while conducting the tests where the element of exploring the unknown is present, and an accident or incident during a test flight but not when conducting a test point. While one might argue that the second ever landing is a "test point", it was stated that all planned tasks had been completed, so it seems it wasn't considered to be a "test". (Which may in itself be a topic for further discussion; at what point does a "routine" element of a flight on a flight test vehicle truly become "routine"?)
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Old 9th Sep 2016, 09:43
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Hello Mad (Flt) Scientist,


You will understand that I am very limited in what I can say on any public forum but:


1. UK AAIB is part of the process.
2. The aircraft operates on an EASA Permit-to-Fly issued by UK CAA and EASA Approved Flight Conditions
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Old 17th Nov 2017, 22:47
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This afternoon I became the first non-test pilot to fly on the Airlander when I was on board alongside our chief test pilot as flight test engineer. My first flight as a FTE, aged 52 and until about three years ago I never even thought it was an option for me.

Sorry, very un-English to show off but I need to share my excitement in a place where people will understand.
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Old 18th Nov 2017, 13:13
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Very well done Joe.

You probably heard me on RT in the circuit at EGTC mentioning to the tower that you were airborne, and getting a rather sniffy "affirmative, they're talking to me" in return. It was great watching you over there doing your jobs.
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Old 18th Nov 2017, 15:02
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Thank you G. I certainly heard the callsign of the aeroplane in which we have flown together although I didn't recognise your voice, I guess my mind was on the job in hand! Thanks for mentioning us to Cranfield, there were plenty of small aeroplanes sharing the sky with us and at least one airways departure on their frequency during the 76 minute flight.
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Old 18th Nov 2017, 15:34
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Company statement:

Today there was an incident with the Airlander aircraft at Cardington airfield. The aircraft was not flying at the time of the incident. Our initial assessment is that the aircraft broke free from its mooring mast for reasons that will be investigated. The aircraft has a safety system which operates automatically in circumstances of the aircraft breaking free of its mast, and is designed to rip open the hull and deflate the aircraft. This is a safety feature to ensure our aircraft minimises any potential damage to its surroundings in these circumstances. The aircraft is now deflated and secure on the edge of the airfield. The fuel and helium inside the Airlander have been made safe.
A member of HAV staff sustained minor injuries and was taken to hospital for assessment as a precaution. She has since been discharged. A separate member of staff also sustained minor injuries while dealing with the aftermath of the incident.
A number of local roads and a local footpath were temporarily closed off by Bedfordshire Police and we apologise for any inconvenience this has caused local residents.
We are testing a brand new type of aircraft and incidents of this nature can occur during this phase of development. We will assess the cause of the incident and the extent of repairs needed to the aircraft in the next few weeks.
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Old 18th Nov 2017, 16:17
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Originally Posted by JOE-FBS View Post
Thank you G. I certainly heard the callsign of the aeroplane in which we have flown together although I didn't recognise your voice, I guess my mind was on the job in hand! Thanks for mentioning us to Cranfield, there were plenty of small aeroplanes sharing the sky with us and at least one airways departure on their frequency during the 76 minute flight.
I doubt you'll have recognised the callsign I was using - and quite right, you were busy! It's hard to imagine a 76 minute 2 crew early-stage prototype flight like yours offering much potential for relaxing and enjoying the view.
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